15 Christians arrested after prayer meeting interrupted by Hindu extremists

Fifteen Christians were arrested for alleged forced conversions in Karnataka, India after the church they were praying in was surrounded.

A protester attends a rally by hundreds of Christians against attacks on churches nationwide, in Mumbai February 9, 2015.Reuters

Christians had gathered on 31 December for a prayer meeting to usher in the New Year at an evangelical protestant church called Believers Church. The police interrupted the gathering, arresting those inside.

The police justified their arrests as an act of protection from the dozens of Hindu extremists who had surrounded the church building, according to AsiaNews.

The Hindu radicals surrounding the church came from two ultra-nationalist groups called the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. They had intended to raid the church, but locked doors prevented them until the police were able to intervene.

Police then arrested the Christians, taking them to the nearest police station, before releasing them a few hours later.

The religious leaders were called the next day to testify in order to ensure that there was no attempted proselytism during the service.

Although the Christians were released, the police gave the religious leaders rules that must be observed in future, including the obligation to alert authorities of gatherings.

No action has been taken "against those who disturb social peace", according to Sjan George, the president of The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).

"The GCIC strongly condemns the police actions, who intervened quickly and acted against people who were praying in a private place. The police should have only dispersed the mob that had gathered outside the church."

This event is further evidence that the Christian minority "is vulnerable and subjected to harassment and persecution by both extremist as well as authorities, who are responsible for protecting citizens. Clearly, Christians are considered second-class citizens", George added.